Posted 13 October 2011
Sandy Brittz and Johan Brittz are two individuals who sell products (Be-Trim, Microslim, Organo Slim) with no evidence that they can result in weight loss. In fact, as suspected, the products may be the same rubbish but given different names ("if this one does not help you, try this other one"). The owner(s), Sandy Brittz and Johan Brittz who we have previously written about, live the high life in Lladudno, off the proceeds of these baloney products. You may be as curious as I was to know where they live: here
Microslim / HA Steinman / 17632
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
BoundlessTrade 149 (Pty) Ltd t/a Microslim Respondent
12 Oct 2011
Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s print advertisement appearing in the MNet Magic magazine.
The advertisement features an image of a model dressed in a bikini, and the headline “10 kilos in the Blink of an Eye”. It describes the Microslim product as “… the culmination of more than 14 years of international research …” and contains, inter alia, the following claims:
“It contains only natural ingredients which are combined into a unique formulation, which our customers say doesn’t only help them to slim, but also helps to correct their metabolism while it increases their energy levels.
Microslim’s new unique formulation helps you to eat less which prevents fat from forming, burns excess fat rolls and cellulite and helps to make your body firmer and leaner. It contains 4 different fibres which have been found to lessen calorie absorption & regulates your stomach … Our unique formulation is formulated to help your body to burn up what it takes in and to normalize your metabolism. Microslim will lessen your appetite, lessen your cravings for sweet things and will leave you bursting with a lot of energy”.
A “Medicine Control Council of SA Registration Number” of “017201/101/1695” is also quoted.
RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint, the following clauses of the Code were taken into consideration:
• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation
• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims
In essence, the complainant submitted that the respondent is well aware of the requirements insofar as substantiation are concerned. The advertising at issue contains a host of weight loss and related claims which are not substantiated based on “evidence-based proof” and are therefore misleading to the average consumer.
The complainant added that the alleged MCC registration number is exactly the same as that quoted for the respondent’s Be-Trim and Easythin products. He also clarified that the product is not registered with the MCC.
Given the respondent’s repeated pattern of making unsubstantiated weight loss claims, sanctions and an Ad Alert are in order, specifically insofar as the Mnet magazine is concerned.
Ms Sandy Brittz, a representative of the respondent, submitted arguments as to why she believes in the “Be-Trim Budget Weight Loss System”, and how this system worked for her. She also referred to satisfied clients and invited the ASA to contact these clients, who will attest to the efficacy of Microslim.
Insofar as the MCC registration number is concerned, she clarified that “The Be-Trim Budget System has been registered with the MCC for many years under the Registry number 17205. For some strange reason there appeared to be a printing error in the advert that Dr Steinman is referring to. The number that is printed there is 017201 which is registered to one of our other products called Slinky Slim. I apologise for this mistake …”. In addition, it was explained that the respondent decided in 2000 to market its Be-Trim product under the name Microslim, offering a buy one get one free promotion to cater for people who are battling financially. It had to use the new name in order to know when a customer would qualify for the buy one get one free promotion.
An article entitled “New Findings on Fibre” from “LE Magazine May 2005” was also submitted.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.
At the outset it should be noted that this respondent has received several adverse rulings on the basis of not holding any substantiation as required in terms of Clause 4.1 of the Code. The complainant has also correctly noted that the respondent is a repeat offender, and should be well aware of the requirements for substantiation.
Without having to dwell on this issue, the Directorate notes that in Organo Slim / A Blom / 16330 (4 August 2011) the Directorate imposed a sanction in terms of Clause 14.3 of the Procedural Guide on the respondent. The Directorate specifically pointed out that this sanction (which involves the respondent obtaining pre-approval for all its products across its entire range for a period of one year) was as a result of the respondent’s deliberate disregard for the Code.
As a result of the ruling issued on 4 August 2011, an Ad Alert was also issued to media members, advising them not to accept any advertising from Boundlesstrade 149 and/or Organoslim and/or BeTrim and/or MicroSlim and/or SlinkySlim and/or EasyThin (the names of the respondent’s other products) whatsoever unless it is accompanied by confirmation from the ACA Advisory Service that it may be published.
Given this, the Directorate is satisfied that the existing sanction is adequate insofar as the request for sanctions and an Ad Alert were made by the complainant. The only remaining issue is whether or not this advertisement is acceptable. Before dealing with this, however, it should be noted that this complaint was received prior to the sanction being imposed, and is therefore not retrospectively affected by it.
As has apparently become standard procedure for the respondent, no substantiation was submitted that would satisfy the requirements of Clause 4.1 of Section II. In fact, other than the article (which does not appear to necessarily even relate to the respondent or its product), no documentary evidence of any nature was supplied. In addition, no evidence of any alleged registration or approval with the MCC was submitted.
Based on this, the advertisement is clearly in contravention of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code by virtue of the fact that the weight loss and related claims disputed are not substantiated. Likewise the reference to being registered with the MCC is also unsubstantiated.
As a result, the advertisement is also likely to mislead people and is therefore in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code.
Based on the above, the respondent is required to:
Withdraw the advertisement and all relevant claims that gave rise to this dispute;
Action the withdrawal of the advertisement and claims with immediate effect upon receipt of this ruling;
Ensure that the advertisement and claims are withdrawn within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide; and
Not use the advertisement or claims in their current format again in the future.
The complaint is upheld.